LGBT center Soiree celebrates achievements, raises funds

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Wednesday March 25, 2015
Share this Post:

The San Francisco LGBT Community Center's official poster for Soiree 2015 features a starship way out in the far reaches of space. "Celebrating our community's future" reads the tagline.

"We are really excited to celebrate the 13th anniversary of the LGBT center," said Roberto Ordeñana, the center's director of development. "We've made incredible progress in our quest for civil rights. Our Soiree helps us all imagine what a stronger and healthier LGBT community could look like."

This year's theme is "Limitless."

The Soiree, a party and fundraiser for the center, takes place Saturday March 28 at City View inside the Metreon. Soiree, which is the center's biggest fundraising event of the year, takes place from 8 p.m. to midnight. A VIP dinner will be held from 6 to 8 p.m.

Several community members talked to the Bay Area Reporter about what the center means to them and how it has helped them.

Shane, 23, who asked that his last name not be used, moved to the Bay Area in part to continue his studies in alternative medicine, and to escape the bullying and abuse he endured in his native Florida.

"The center provided me with meals when I was hungry at their weekly meal night," Shane, who is gay, recalled. "The employment services team worked with me on many occasions to prepare me and to help me get a job."

Shane now sits on the center's Youth Council where he facilitates a job club for youth.

"The center has continued to provide me with outstanding support and resources," he said, calling the center essential to those in the community who might need the same kind of help as he did.

The center can also be a refuge for seniors. Lollie Ortiz, 71, is an artist and a client of the center's lending circle. Like many others, she experienced the hardships of the recent economic downturn, and accumulated debt. When she attempted to refinance her home, Ortiz, who identifies as gay, discovered that she had no credit score.

"I thought through my own lack of financial education that if I didn't use credit cards for the last 10 years I was helping my credit score," Ortiz said.

She found the help she needed at a lending circle meeting, and couldn't be happier.

"To be able to start increasing my credit score without being judged for my past debts was a financial miracle," Ortiz said. "That was the beginning of a new direction in securing financial freedom in terms of education and in learning to take that first step."

Ortiz also said that she learned that it's OK to ask for help.

"The center connects people to each other, to resources and to opportunities," said Ordeñana. "Joining us for Soiree gives people a chance to invest in the tens of thousands of community members that use our center throughout the year."

Soiree is celebrated by people from across the LGBT spectrum. There will be DJs, dancing, food, an open bar, silent auction, costume contest, and live entertainment, all in a futuristic setting that the center promises will "dazzle."

Performers will include Breanna Sinclaire, 25, a recent graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Sinclaire, a transgender woman, credits the center with helping her to find work, getting hormone replacement therapy, and legally changing her name.

"Without the center, I would not be the woman I am today," Sinclaire said. "Because of the center, I was able to succeed in school as Breanna Sinclaire, my true self."

As Shane, Sinclaire, and Ortiz look to their individual futures, the LGBT center looks forward to a future of offering assistance to more community members like them.

"Soiree 2015 celebrates the accomplishments of the center, the visitors who use it, and all of it's supporters," said Ordeñana.


Tickets for the dinner and party are $225; tickets to the party only are $125. For more information, visit